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Discworld RPG’s classic Pratchett characters won’t get stats

The new Discworld tabletop RPG will feature beloved Pratchett characters like Sam Vimes - but they won't have stats, the publisher tells us.

Terry Pratchett Discworld RPG characters - Discworld Emporium sales image showing part of David Wyatt's The Ankh Morpork City Watch print, including Sam Vimes, Angua, and Carrot

Modiphius’ new Discworld tabletop RPG will let players interact with beloved Terry Pratchett characters like Night Watch captain Sam Vimes and his protégé Carrot Ironfoundersson – but they won’t have full mechanical rules or stat blocks, the publisher’s boss Chris Birch tells Wargamer.

“We don’t want to create stats for well known characters, because that’s saying something about them that we don’t know already,” the Modiphius founder tells us in a video interview.

“But you need to be able to interact with them. So what are the interesting mechanics that let you do that?”

Modiphius announced its licencing deal to produce an official Discworld RPG last week, and it’s very early in development. In our conversation about the firm’s ideas for a procedurally generated Ankh-Morpork, Birch says his team is treading very lightly in how it’s approaching gamifying the Discworld.

“Working with a property like this, you’ve got to do it with a very light touch and be very sensitive,” he explains – “especially because Terry didn’t want anything new written in the world, you know, so we’re being true to that.”

Terry Pratchett Discworld RPG characters - Discworld Emporium sales image showing part of David Wyatt's The Ankh-Morpork City Watch print including Cheery Littlebottom and The Librarian

And he reveals that Modiphius’ focus on re-telling, rather than adding new information to Pratchett’s fantastical mythos includes refraining from attaching rules or statistics to beloved characters that might alter the game’s versions from the men, women, and non-binary creatures Pratchett wrote.

“I think I’m probably right in saying we wouldn’t want to have detailed things,” he says firmly – “but you don’t need to have stats to be able to engage with them mechanically”.

“Let’s say you’ve joined the watch, and you’re getting a job from Vimes. Do you want to ask for more resources from Vimes? Do you want to change the job?

“You know, there are various options that would require a test. That’s just a difficulty test,” he explains – “we don’t need to know all of Vimes’ stats to engage with Vimes in a mechanical way in the game.”

“There’s ways to engage with famous characters in RPGs… and I’m sure the team will figure out how we interact with them. It might be that you get to talk to them, but you never actually have a mechanical challenge.”

Terry Pratchett Discworld RPG characters - Discworld Emporium sales image showing part of David Wyatt's The Lancre Witch Trials print, including Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg

Deciding whether or not to include detailed rules – on the level of DnD stats – for major lore characters bumps up against one of the thorniest issues with developing a Discworld TTRPG: combat.

Pratchett’s novels are mainly about exploring deep social, philosophical, and political questions through fantasy and humor, with combat playing a distant second to themes of investigation, psychology, and mystery.

That puts the setting rather at odds with most mainstream tabletop RPGs, and the gameplay expectations many players will have from them.

Dungeons and Dragons is a combat game, really. And you know, Pratchett is not a combat thing,” Birch says.

“Fights do happen – not a lot, and you don’t really see them – but they do,” he adds. “[In Guards! Guards!] Carrot piles into the bar and tries to arrest everyone, and there’s a huge fight – and, you know, no-one’s really hurt that you can see.”

“Now, some players will want to have that fight. And I don’t think we should say there’s no fighting in this game, you cannot do any fighting, because that can be part of the fun, and hilarious,” he says.

“You know, every cowboy film has the almost-slapstick bar-room brawl.”

But loading up famous characters like Vimes, Carrot, or the hulking troll guard constable Detritus with in-game stats and letting the players engage them toe-to-toe is a bridge too far for Birch, it seems – it’s simply not the vibe.

“Of course, players can be like: ‘I don’t care, I want to hit him’,” he admits.

“Well, then, you know, I’m sure it’ll be equally horrifying and painful when Carrot comes out and knocks you on the head.”

Terry Pratchett Discworld RPG characters - Discworld Emporium sales image showing part of David Wyatt's Welcome to Ankh-Morpork print, showing Patrician Vetinari

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld: Adventures in Ankh-Morpork will begin crowdfunding via Kickstarter in late 2024, and Modiphius is conducting a survey to collect data about its fans, their interest in Discworld, and what they want to see from this game.

There’s still more tasty Discworld RPG news to share from our one-hour interview with Chris Birch, so check in with Wargamer through the week to find out more.

While you’re waiting, read what Chris told us about Modiphius’ brand new Mass Effect board game, revealed on Monday and coming out for the 2024 holidays.

Fans of TTRPGs, fantasy, and sci-fi should also check out this NASA DnD adventure that’ll be the envy of many a DnD one shot.

If you’re more into miniature wargames, the new Age of Sigmar Chaos Marauders, revealed on Monday, are well worth a look  – and you can learn more in our guide to the Age of Sigmar armies.